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Improving the representation of females on the board

Written by Kimberley Startup | January 17, 2013 | 0 Comments

Female directors, gender inequality, senior appointments, executives, Human resources, HR, employers, senior management, senior employers, recruitmentDid you know the number of UK female directors has risen to 5 million compared with 4.3 million in 2007?

News from HR Magazine last month revealed the number of female directors has rocketed over the past 5 years, with the increase in female directors outstripping men: 24% compared to 15%.

Yet despite this change, why is it that men are still much more likely than women to hold senior positions?

Particularly in today’s society, the lack of females in the board room is a stark example of workplace inequality between women and men, with almost 90% of boardroom positions going to men. Fixing such injustices isn’t just good for your team; it’s good for business as well.

Why?

– Men may naturally be more prone to risk taking and competition, but women are better collaborators and better at achieving long-term results
– Appointing women to the board leads to a better public reputation for the organisation
– Encouraging women in positions of leadership provides positive role models to young women and other emerging leaders
– Female board members result in the attraction and retention of diverse staff and better staff morale
– Having more women in leadership positions is correlated with stronger financial returns

These are just a few of the reasons women would make great members of the board. But if you’re still unsure, just look at the story of Marilyn Carlson Nelson.

In summary, her father refused to hire her for years, assigning her to ‘female’ jobs in administration. So, she made her own way in the business world. When she did take over her father’s company in her 60s, she more than tripled the growth and profits and turned it into a successful global leader.

Whilst there’s still a long way to go before we see more women on the board. There are already initiatives in place to help increase the number of females in senior positions. Lord Davies, in his review of Women on Boards, has called for companies in the FTSE 100 to aim for a minimum of 25% female board member representation by 2015.

But this sort of situation requires more than just a recommendation. And if we want to see a result, business leaders need to take action.

If you are looking to increase the number of women in leadership positions at your company, consider the opportunities you offer female employees for advancement and the barriers they face.

Too often than not, women encounter gender-based stereotypes about who is qualified to do what kind of job. Address this challenge by offering female employees more flexible working conditions that fit around things such as child care.

You could also develop a specific recruitment plan for key vacancies that provide the best opportunities to attract women to senior roles and encourage them to apply.

Unfortunately, the subject of attracting and developing female directors is a topic that will continue to stir much debate. But by recognising some of the issues preventing women from participating in higher level roles, employers are able to begin addressing these issues.

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